Signs of Hearing Loss

Rocky Mountain Ear, Nose, & Throat Center | Allergy Center | Hearing Center | Missoula, Bozeman & Hamilton, MT

Hearing loss can present itself in several ways.

Signs of hearing loss in adults:

  • Difficulty understanding speech in an environment with background noise
  • Difficulty understanding speech in quiet
  • Having to turn up the television or radio
  • Asking people to repeat often
  • Forgetting and missing key information that was verbally expressed to you
  • Ringing or sounds in your ears (tinnitus)
  • Feeling of fullness in your ears
  • A sense that those around you “mumble”

Signs of hearing loss in children:

  • Lack of response to sounds unless they are loud
  • Speech development delay
  • Unable to pay attention

Hearing loss can be genetic, occur with age, or be related to a more serious medical problem. It is important to speak with an audiologist if you have any concerns about you or your child’s hearing.

Causes of hearing loss include:

  • Damage to the inner ear.Aging and exposure to loud noise may cause wear and tear on the hairs or nerve cells in the cochlea that send sound signals to the brain. When these hairs or nerve cells are damaged or missing, electrical signals aren’t transmitted as efficiently, and hearing loss occurs. Higher pitched tones may become muffled to you.

    It may become difficult for you to pick out words against background noise. Heredity may make you more prone to these changes. This type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss, which is permanent.

  • A gradual buildup of earwax. Earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves. This can be restored with earwax removal.
  • Ear infection and abnormal bone growths or tumors. In the outer or middle ear, any of these can cause hearing loss.
  • Ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation). Loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, poking your eardrum with an object and infection can cause your eardrum to rupture and affect your hearing.

When to see a doctor

If you have a sudden loss of hearing, particularly in one ear, seek immediate medical attention.


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